4 Reasons Travel is Great Self-Care

By Sarah A. Lybrand

There's nothing like getting away for a little R&R. And after 2020? We deserve it!

Great news, shut-ins! Even if it makes you a little nervous right now: With a bit of intention, planning, and preparation, travel can be an excellent form of self-care. And while — ok, true — traveling can be a disruption to our normal health and wellness regimen (jetlag, overscheduling, and overindulgence sound familiar to anyone?) — it can also help inspire a new one.

Here’s how (and why) travel is a great form of self-care:

Reason #1

Travel forces you into a new routine—whether you like it or not

Are you kicking an old habit, or starting a new one? Consider an upcoming trip to be an opportune time. With everything “normal” out the window (the cuisine, the weather, your bed) — our minds are more easily molded and mapped onto something new. Forced abstinence (on a long flight perhaps), paired with lots of distractions, can be an equally effective formula for breaking out of routines, too.

Example: Taking a brisk walk to grab a coffee a half-mile from your hotel (since you’re probably headed out anyway) could be just the catalyst you need to form a new healthy habit.

Reason #2

Mindfulness is easy amid the new and unfamiliar

Going somewhere new absolutely demands that you pay attention. When you’re navigating down the street of a foreign city, absorbing all you can around you – there’s not really a lot of time to be in your head about the past, or worrying about the future — you pretty much have to drop everything and step into the proverbial ‘now’. Traveling opens up your senses to the world and this is one reason vacations, even short ones, can feel rich and eventful. Remind yourself that such stimulation for your mind needs equal parts rest for your soul.

Tip: Put away your phone, sit up straight, and with long, slow breaths, absorb all the details you can around you except for your eyes (which you’ll have closed). Do this for four straight minutes See? Now don’t you feel better?

Reason #3

Walking is great for exploring—and hotel gyms/pools are still free!

A long daily walk might not satisfy a triathlete, but it’s still the best way to keep up your basic physical fitness when you’re on a trip. It’s safe, low-impact, and perfect for travelers; ten thousand steps go by fast when you’re out sightseeing all day!

Not to mention all the affordable, streaming workout subscriptions, popularized by the pandemic, (designed to function in compact spaces, with zero gear) and putting the power of self-care via exercise right in your own back pocket.

Finally, even business-forward accommodations have at the least a small gym, pool, and if you’re lucky, a hot tub/jacuzzi. All of which are quality self-care strategies that might even be more fun, free — and notably, way more convenient — on vacation.

Reason #4

Packing light is the ultimate self-care (so is packing a little extra something, too)

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than a strained muscle from an overburdened pack, or suffering the snickers of locals as you try stuffing a giant suitcase into a tiny river raft (not that I’d know anything about that) so let me assure you: every item you can leave behind will only make your trip better.

Except… for that ONE thing. A little extra something you pack just for you, and your own dang comfort. For me, it’s a packaged face mask for the shower or poolside, or maybe a silk robe or slippers for somwhere cold (since we’re indulging).

Know what it’s not? High heels. Or a structured pant-suit. ‘Cause you heard it here first: self-care means not putting a single thing on your body during a vacation that doesn’t feel 100% pleasurable and awesome.

...Or else maybe re-think “vacation?”

Tip: Half as many clothes and twice as many pairs of underwear as you think you need (says a vacation-savvy friend that never steers me wrong). Another self-care tip: trust the advice of friends you love!

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Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Sarah A. Lybrand is a writer and content creator based out of Long Island, New York. You can find her work on all the places writers make a racket.

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